The president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) spoke to the Associated Press this week after the explosive announcement that the WWE (the largest professional wrestling company in the world) will be joining the UFC’s parent company Endeavor.
With a valuation of $21.4 billion, as revealed by Endeavor, this merger represents a massive financial investment that has left fighters, fans, and the media wondering what the future holds for the promotions. White stated to the Associated Press that despite this new cooperation, there are still significant distinctions that can be made between the UFC and the WWE.
“The difference between the UFC and the WWE is you look at the WWE and they have an entertainment value and they have these guys that are incredible athletes that go in there and do their thing,” White said.
“It’s well known that it’s scripted. When you look at the UFC, this is as real as it gets, that’s our tagline.
“You have these guys that are incredible athletes, they have to be well-rounded and well-versed in all these different aspects of martial arts. Then you have the entertainment side of it too, but it’s real fighting. It’s real. There are no predetermined outcomes in the UFC. There won’t really by any type of crossover.”
Apart from the histories that mixed martial arts and professional wrestling possess, the two industries share some promotional parallels, and athletes from both the WWE and the UFC have successfully made the transition from one organisation to the other. Ken Shamrock, now enshrined in the UFC Hall of Fame, was a pro wrestling superstar before becoming one of the UFC’s initial stars and later enjoying a prosperous career with the WWE.
Both Brock Lesnar, a WWE Superstar, and Ronda Rousey, a former UFC bantamweight champion, have become major stars in the WWE after achieving success in the octagon. Conor McGregor, Colby Covington, and Michael Chandler are just a few of the UFC fighters who have taken direct inspiration from the world of professional wrestling.
White is less concerned about the possibility of talent being shared than he is about the possibility of resources being shared.
“You have the power of the fan base of the WWE, you have the power of the fan base of the UFC, and you have the power of the viral—I don’t even know what the hell this thing is yet, the viral ability and whatever that fan base is going to be for Power Slap and we can reach all these people in so many different ways,” White said. “There’s just a lot more resources now.
“WWE has a lot more resources. It’s a phone call away now. All they’ve got to do is pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, how did this happen? I need this’ or ‘I need this contact’ or ‘how did you do this?’ and you all work together to make sure that everybody wins.”